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More Despicable Corruption in Published Studies

Thanks largely to the climbing number of research scandals in the news, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has announced more stringent conflict-of-interest policies. The reason: Researchers still don't reveal all their financial ties to the evil empire, better known as the mega-drug companies.

The flashpoint for change was a recent study about the adverse health effects on pregnant women who stop taking a prescribed antidepressant.

The authors were leading psychiatrists and their results challenged a common assumption that hormonal changes during pregnancy protected expectant mothers against depression. In fact, they predicted their findings would prompt some women to stay on their depression medication through pregnancy, good news for drugmakers.

But study and media reports of the research ALL failed to mention that most of the 13 authors were paid as consultants or lecturers by the makers of antidepressants. Moreover, the lead author is a longtime consultant to three antidepressant makers, a paid speaker for seven of them and has his research work funded by four drugmakers. None of his financial ties were reported in the study.

In total, the authors failed to disclose more than 60 different financial relationships with drug companies.

This is especially reprehensible since the very premise of their study is fatally flawed. That was certainly my experience in primary care. It was very obvious that, for most of my pregnant patients, their depression was mysteriously resolved once they were into the hormonal influences of their pregnancy.

It is reprehensible that this type of conflicted research could be published that supports unnecessary medicine that has clearly been linked to the development of birth detects.

This is a powerful indicator as to how low drug companies have fallen. These authors LIED to JAMA as there are specific questions they need to answer regarding these conflicts of interests. Then, they promote a recommendation that can harm innocent unborn children...

Accounts like these strengthen my resolve to realize my vision to transform the existing medical paradigm -- addicted to drug-based "cures" -- to one focused on treating the true underlying causes of disease.

Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 296, No. 2, July 12, 2006: 220-221

Forbes.com July 11, 2006

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